Imminent, Immanent, and Eminent

By Maeve Maddox

Judaye Streett has asked for a tip on the similarly sounding words imminent, immanent, and eminent.

Imminent is an adjective meaning “about to happen.” It comes from a Latin word meaning “to overhang” or “to be near.” ”

Obama’s court pick is imminent

Pfizer Chief Says Growth Is Imminent

PSPgo Relaunch is Imminent

Bush Says No Imminent Decision on Guantanamo

Similar in meaning to imminent is the word impending, literally, “hanging over.” Unlike imminent, impending has a negative, even ominous connotation.

How do human beings react to the threat of impending catastrophe?

Teachers appeal to AG to cancel impending dismissals

Peter could not keep silent. He laid hold upon his Master, as if to draw Him back from His impending doom…

Anxiety symptoms – Fear of impending doom

The expression impending doom, meaning “something bad about to happen” has become such a cliché as to be the name of at least two heavy metal bands.

Immanent is an adjective meaning “dwelling within.” The word is most commonly used to describe a spiritual presence. It comes from a Latin word meaning “to dwell within.”

Is there a hierarchy in the immanent Trinity?

God is immanent in every form and whoever loves God must love God’s creation.

Colossians 1:15:20 says: God has become immanent in Jesus Christ

The word immanent has other applications in anthropology and mathematics.

Sometimes even people writing about spiritual matters mix up immanent and imminent, as in these examples from a web site about the historical Jesus:

[Jesus] did believe that this restoration [of a Jewish state] was immanent.

Critical scholars argue that the high priest feared that Jesus’ talk of an immanent restoration of an independent Jewish state would likely spark a riot.

Eminent means “prominent, outstanding.” It comes from a Latin word meaning “to stand out” or “to project.” Eminent people stand out from the herd because of their personal and professional qualities and achievements. In a literal sense of “projecting,” an eminence can be a hill or other high place that stands above its surroundings. The city squares by night are breathtaking when viewed from an eminence.

BOOK REVIEW: An eminent Victorian disinterred

UN Security Council Seeks an Eminent Individual for an Impossible Job

The legal term eminent domain refers to the right of a government to appropriate private property for public use, paying “just compensation” to the owner. The public domain stands out from the private domain.

The Alameda Theater and Cineplex in Alameda, CA, was built on property that was unjustly seized by the city through eminent domain laws.

A new eminent domain law in Utah authorizes seizure of some of the federal government’s vast land holdings.

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